Fears are growing in Rakhine State’s Maungdaw in western Myanmar’s after a video circulated showing Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) fighters conducting a drill in an area believed to be in the township.
ARSA leader Ata Ullah was seen along with two other key leaders as well as ARSA fighters in the video. Sources told The Irrawaddy that the drill took place somewhere in Maungdaw near the Bangladeshi border.
In December, residents of Khone Taing Village were allegedly attacked by ARSA fighters in a forest near their village.
Administrator of Khone Taing Village U Maung Hla told The Irrawaddy: “Twenty-three villagers from my village went to cut bamboo on Dec. 7, and they came across an ARSA group. They fired shots as our villagers ran away from them. One of our villagers was suffered a gunshot wound.”
The shooting occurred near Mt. La Baw Chaung, some 2 miles from Khone Taing Village. The victim is receiving treatment at Maungdaw Hospital. Locals dare not leave the village to find food following the incident.“When it happened, it was not just one or two villagers. The villagers were in a large group of more than 20, but still they were shot at. So we are very concerned. No one dares to go out of the village to search for vegetables or fish. We have had to use caution,” a villager said.
Locals reported the shooting to border guard police. Troops from the ethnic Rakhine armed group the Arakan Army (AA) have come to the village and listened to the first-hand accounts of villagers.
A contractor repairing a road near Kha Maung Seik Village in Maungdaw has suspended operations and ordered his employees to return to town for fear of ARSA attacks. Like Rakhine people, Muslim residents of the area also have concerns about the resurrection of ARSA, said Maungdaw resident U Ko Latt.
DAKAR: Representatives of Myanmar’s junta are expected to challenge the jurisdiction of the World Court to hear allegations the country committed genocide against its Rohingya minority in a fresh round of hearings from Feb 21, the attorney general of Gambia, which brought the case, told Reuters on Friday (Jan 14).
“A hybrid hearing (is) set to commence on Feb 21, 2022,” Gambian Attorney General Dawda Jallow said.
He added that Aung San Suu Kyi, who led Myanmar’s defence at the first public hearings in 2019 but has since been deposed by the military, had been formally replaced as its top representative in the case.
A hybrid hearing is a procedure where some of the participants are present in person and others participate online due to COVID-19 measures.
More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar after a military-led crackdown in 2017 and were forced into squalid camps across the border in Bangladesh.
UN investigators concluded that the military campaign had been executed with “genocidal intent”.
An ICJ spokesperson declined to confirm dates for a new hearing had been scheduled.
In December 2019 Nobel peace prize laureate Suu Kyi, then Myanmar’s civilian leader, personally attended hearings at The Hague to ask judges to dismiss the case.
She was deposed in a 2021 coup and has since been sentenced to six years in detention and faces a slew of further charges. The army takeover of the democratically elected government led to widespread protests.
The military government has been fighting for international recognition and could be eager for the opportunity to show themselves as Myanmar’s legitimate representatives at the UN’s top court.
Sources close to the case say the junta has been engaging with the court to submit court-ordered reports every six months on the situation with the Rohingya. The reports are not public.
Myanmar junta has ordered all military personnel not to answer letters related to arrest warrants or summons from the International Criminal Court (ICC) or the Argentinian judiciary on the human rights violation of the Rohingyas and other communities in the country, according to Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK).
The order signed on January 6 this year by a senior official of the Myanmar army, said that Myanmar still stands by its position that it is not a member of the ICC, so it does not need to abide by its ruling.
“Possibilities are that judges of ICC could decide that the evidence of the plaintiffs is sufficient to issue arrest warrant or summons,” said the order signed by Captain Aung Ko Zaw, according to BROUK’s statement issued today.
“Therefore, responsible officials of all levels of battalions under the command of the regional operation commands shall supervise and implement strictly to ensure that no one shall accept any letters or arrest orders related to travel restrictions or arrest warrants or summons or letters sent by express carrier services from abroad and other means from ICC or Argentinian Courts or the plaintiff,” the order read.
The order also instructed that nobody must forward any messages from social media such as Viber, Messenger, Telegram to others; and if found, severe action will be taken according to the military regulations.
“All battalions are thus informed to seriously abide by and carry out the above-mentioned directive”, the order added.
BROUK in the statement today said that Myanmar has led a decade-long genocide against the Rohingya people. In August 2017, the Myanmar military and its proxies launched a vicious operation in Rakhine State, killing thousands of Rohingya and driving hundreds of thousands to flee into Bangladesh.
BROUK said it is outrageous that the Myanmar military is now desperately trying to cover the tracks of its genocidal crimes against the Rohingya.
The government has asked the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe what it believes is a well-oiled international illegal immigration racket, in which Rohingyas and Bangladeshi Muslims enter India illegally through porous border passages in Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Meghalaya using fake documents, people familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.
Initial information with central agencies reveals the racket is run from Bengaluru but has a presence across India. The people involved not only organize the illegal entry of Rohingyas and Bangladeshi Muslims, but also arrange their transportation to various cities so that they settle there, said an official with a central agency.
The person behind the racket has been identified as Kumkum Ahmed Chaudhury of Bengaluru, who supervises illegal migration in association with Sahalam Laskar of Jammu and Raju Ali, a Pakistani national. Chaudhury and Laskar originally hail from Assam but operate from Bengaluru and Jammu , the first official added.
While asking the NIA to look into the matter, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) said in a communication to the agency that “there is a well-designed larger conspiracy to exploit the illegal migrants and also to destabilize the population ratio and demographic scenario of the country”. HT has seen a copy of the communication dated December 23.
It is suspected the gang has been successful in bringing several Rohingyas into the country over the past few years.
The central anti-terror probe agency has already formally taken up the investigation in the matter couple of weeks back and a team is trying to gather details about the racket, said another official.
The second official added that the network involved in sending Rohingyas to India usually arrange forged documents such as PAN cards, Aadhar numbers, driving licences and ration cards.
Teams from un migration agency iom were mobilized on sunday after fire swept through a refugee camp in cox’s bazar, Bangladesh, home to thousands of rohingya who have fled violence in neighbouring myanmar.
The blaze was first reported just before 5 pm local time and caused considerable damage to sections of the largest camp of its kind in the world, affecting both refugees and members of the host community.
Response teams were deployed to protect refugees and bring the situation back under control, in coordination with the local authorities and fire brigade.
So far, the cause and origin of the blaze are unknown, and no fatalities have been reported, though two people were reportedly injured.
“We are coordinating with other humanitarian actors to ensure that those affected are provided with food, health, protection, water, sanitation, and hygiene needs,” said Nusrath Ghazzali, officer-in-charge for IOM Bangladesh.
Top priorities include shelter repair and rebuilding, as well as access to cooking facilities.
The World Food Programme (WFP) on Monday reported that it has begun serving hot meals to some 2,200 camp residents.
The agency will distribute hot meals twice daily to all families who now have no means of cooking for themselves.
The incident follows a earlier large fire that broke out on 2 January, which resulted in significant damage to IOM’s Severe Acute Respiratory Infection and Isolation and Treatment Center (SARI ITC).
IOM and humanitarian partners in Cox’s Bazar plan to conduct technical assessments of the damage from Sunday’s fire, and the immediate and longer-term needs of those affected.
A mobile medical team is on the ground providing assistance as needed. Another team is being deployed within the camp to ensure people have access to accurate and useful information.
IOM has also taken immediate steps to mobilize non-food item kits for affected households. The kits are being supplemented with blankets, given the current cold dry weather.
Conditions in the camps make large fires a real risk, the agency said. Last March, a massive fire claimed several lives, and displaced some 45,000 Rohingya refugees, in addition to causing catastrophic damage.
The fire that broke out at Balukhali Rohingya camp under Ukhiya upazila in Cox’s Bazar was brought under control after two hours this evening.
Armed Police Battalion (APBn) Additional Superintendent of Police Md Kamran Hossain said around 1,200 houses were gutted, adding that eight firefighting units doused the fire two hours after its origin.
Earlier, Rohingya Refugee Rehabilitation Commissioner Redwan Hayat had said that around 600 houses were gutted by the fire, however, no casualties were reported.
“The fire started at 4:40pm [10:40 GMT] and was brought under control at around 6:30 pm,” he told the AFP news agency.
Mohammed Shamsud Douza, a Bangladesh government official in charge of refugees, said emergency workers had brought the fire under control. The cause of the blaze has not been established, he added.
“About 1,200 houses were burnt in the fire,” said Kamran Hossain, a spokesman for the Armed Police Battalion, which heads security in the camp, on Sunday.
The fire started at Camp 16 and raced through shelters made of bamboo and tarpaulin, leaving more than 5,000 people homeless, he said. About 850,000 of the persecuted mostly Muslim minority, many of whom escaped a 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar that the United Nations investigators concluded was executed with “genocidal intent”, live in a network of camps in Bangladesh’s border district of Cox’s Bazar.
Ukhiya Fire Service Station’s Station Commander Emdadul Haque said that the fire was put out at 9:10pm.
Earlier, Armed Police Battalion (APBn) Commander Superintendent of Police Md Naimul Haque confirmed our Cox’s Bazar staff correspondent that the fire originated at Balukhali camp-16 around 5pm.The cause of the fire is still unknown.
Being informed, officer course of APBN-8 and the firefighters jointly brought the blaze under control in around two hours’ frantic efforts, he said.
It was primarily learned that the fire originated from a gas stove, the official added.
There were no immediate reports of casualties in the incident, he also said.
The Burmese junta has protested to the International Organization for Migration about a website the U.N. agency set up to preserve the history of the marginalized Rohingya community of Myanmar, saying the site contains false statements.
The site for the Rohingya Cultural Memory Center is an IOM initiative. The military regime’s appointed Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement on Friday, criticized the IOM for creating this website.
“The establishment of such a website is beyond the scope of the IOM’s jurisdiction and expertise, and the Myanmar Permanent Representative Office in Geneva sent a letter of protest to the IOM on 23 December 2021 against the IOM’s inability to approve the false claims of certain groups,” the ministry said in the statement posted on its website and dated Jan. 7, 2022.
“The term ‘Rohingya’ has always been rejected by the Burmese people and is not recognized by the Burmese people. Myanmar has also rejected the false and misleading statements and information contained on the website,” the statement says.
For decades, Burmese administrations have refused to call the stateless minority “Rohingya.” Even today, Myanmar insists on calling them “Bengalis.”
BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service, tried to contact the ministry and the IOM to get more details but did not immediately hear back on Friday.
Myanmar, a country of 54 million people the size of France, recognizes 135 official ethnic groups, with majority Burmese accounting for about 68 percent of the population. The Rohingya ethnicity is not recognized. And both civilian and military governments have kept this status quo.
The Muslim Rohingya have centuries of history in Myanmar, a former British colony that became independent in 1948. But they are denied citizenship and voting rights, prevented from obtaining jobs and formal education, and restricted from traveling freely. In August 2017 the Burmese military launched a brutal offensive – unleashing a host of atrocities – against the minority community in their home state of Rakhine. As many as 740,000 Rohingya fled across the border to Bangladesh and now live in camps in and around southeastern Cox’s Bazar district.
BANGLADESH hosts more than 1.1 million Rohingyas who fled neighbouring Myanmar during a genocidal campaign by the security forces in 2017. Most of them live in and around Kutupalong and Nayapara refugee camps in the Cox’s Bazar region, which have grown to become the largest and most densely populated camps in the world. Conditions in the camps are challenging and local infrastructure and services have been stretched to their limits. The United Nations has described the Rohingya as ‘the most persecuted minority in the world.’
The government of Bangladesh has been praised by the international community for taking in the refugees. On December 19, 2021, Tom Andrews, special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, at the end of his first official visit to the Bangladesh said, ‘Bangladesh saved untold numbers of lives when it opened its arms and hearts to Rohingya people who survived these most unspeakable of horrors inflicted on them by the Myanmar military.’
‘All who value human rights owe Bangladesh a debt of gratitude’, he added. He acknowledged that the responsibility to resolve the emergency rests upon Myanmar.
Many Bangladeshi expats living in the west who had often felt proud of what Sheikh Hasina and her government have done now feel embarrassed by the latest activities of certain government agencies that are simply callous and inexcusable. Consider, for instance, the activities of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner, which is a Bangladesh government official responsible for education policy in the refugee camps where about 400,000 school-age children are confined.
On December 13, 2021, the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner decided to close down all the community-based and home-based schools within the Rohingya refugee camps.
The government’s 19-point decision, effective immediately, states that ‘home-based learning centre[s] will be closed.’ At these centres, set up in people’s shelters, humanitarian groups, supported by international donor-funding, provide non-formal lessons that have been approved by the Bangladesh government.
The wooden skiff with a busted engine drifted for days before Indonesian fishermen spotted it in the rough waters of the Andaman Sea earlier this week.
Aboard the leaky vessel, more than 50 miles off the coast of Indonesia’s Aceh province, were more than 100 refugees from the largely stateless Rohingya community. Most of the passengers were women and children, according to local fishermen who rescued the boat, and they were hungry, sick and desperate for shelter.
Indonesian authorities initially refused to allow the passengers to disembark, pledging instead to repair the boat and then send it back out to sea. But amid an outcry from rights groups, the United Nations and local residents, the government relented and on Friday finally brought the refugees ashore.
The 120 passengers — including 60 women, 51 children and nine men — were transported to a warehouse in the coastal town of Lhokseumawe, officials said, where they would be protected from heavy monsoon rains and screened for the coronavirus.
The decision to welcome the passengers “was taken after considering the emergency condition of the refugees on that boat,” the head of Indonesia’s national task force on refugees, Armed Wijaya, told Agence France-Presse.
Indonesia is not a signatory to the U.N.’s 1951 Refugee Convention. But a presidential regulation includes provisions for the government to rescue refugees on boats in distress near Indonesia and help them disembark, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
“Rohingya have faced violence, persecution and forced displacement for decades,” UNHCR said in a statement this week.
It added: “All those seeking international protection must be allowed safe harbor and granted access to asylum procedures and humanitarian aid.”
The maritime rescue of scores of Rohingya was a reminder, rights groups said, of the ongoing plight of the persecuted Muslim minority, whose members were targeted in an ethnic cleansing campaign by Myanmar security forces in 2017.
Indonesian authorities said Wednesday they will push a boat containing 120 Rohingya Muslims back to international waters despite calls from the United Nations refugee agency to allow the passengers to disembark after being adrift for days off the country’s northernmost province of Aceh.
The boat is reportedly leaking and has a damaged engine, is floating in the open sea in harsh weather, and may be at risk of capsizing, the UNHCR said Tuesday.
“UNHCR is deeply concerned for the safety and lives of those onboard,” it said in a statement. “To prevent needless loss of life, we strongly urge the Indonesian government to allow safe disembarkation immediately.”
The boat was first sighted by local fishermen on Sunday in waters about 60 miles (96 kilometers) off the coast of Bireuen, a district in Aceh province, said Badruddin Yunus, the leader of the local tribal fishing community. He said fishermen were unable to tow the broken-down wooden boat but had provided food, water and clothes to the hungry passengers, including 60 women, 51 children and nine men.
“Their condition looks weak but fine,” said Yunus, adding that the refugees said they wanted to go to Malaysia and had been at sea for 28 days before their boat’s engine broke.
Local officials, supported by the police and navy, have provided food, medicine, a new boat engine and a technician to help repair the Rohingya boat, and they will push it back to international waters once it is fixed, said Bireuen district chief Muzakkar Gani, who also cited concerns that some of the refugees might have COVID-19.
Gani said local officials were still waiting for directives from the central government in Jakarta but in the meantime planned to repair the boat so the refugees could sail onward to Malaysia.
Aceh Police spokesperson Winardy said officials planned to push the boat out of Indonesian waters.